D200 Test Shots(Newbie) Critique Help please

Joined
Jun 5, 2009
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USA-Today
Attached are some shots I took this weekend on my D200.
I am new to the D200 and am trying to learn.\
I could use some help as they just do not look that great compared to other photos posted on the forum.
I was using a Nikkor 18-200 VR

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I linked these for you - Geoff the moderator.
 
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Joined
Mar 22, 2009
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San Jose, CA
You forgot the tag at the beginning of each photo :)

If you're new to photography, take some time to learn the basics of photography: Lighting, composition, etc.

1. The sign in the backround is distracting, it's placed in a more attractive place in the picture than the main subject, and is a lighter object surrounded by a dark backround, so to me, it stands out much more than the main subject.


For 2 and 3, they don't do it for me, but I can't put my finger as to exactly why.
 
Joined
Apr 23, 2008
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Fredericksburg, VA
socrdude,

You don't have any exif data on the pics; with no f/stop, shutter speed, ISO, focal length, etc. I can't help you there.

Also, none of the pics look sharp to me.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2008
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Chicago, IL
On the second photo, it seems the focus is sharper on the stem than on the flower, and/or the red channel may be clipped (blown out, overexposed--check your histogram).

Secondly, your subject would benefit from more subject isolation from the background, but that is harder to achieve with that lens. Depending on your focal length, perhaps you could have zoomed closer to the long end (200mm).

What time of day did you shoot? Shoot early morning or late in the day for "magic light." Also, try shooting flowers from an angle where light comes through the petals, instead of falling directly on them. In other words, put the subject between you and the light, instead of putting yourself between the subject and the light.
 
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
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Kitchener, ON
First off, I'm not really the right person to give advice as I've never taken a flower picture I liked. I see so many good ones, just not from my hands.

I took the liberty to crop your second photo to put emphasis on the primary flower with a second flower in the background, almost as a reflection. I also added a slight curve to the levels and curves section of Capture NX2. The effect was to take some of the glare from the image mid-tones while maintaining the brights.

This is just my take on your picture, not saying it's better. I'm throwing it out there to see if my eye is learning to see a picture within a picture. It's more for my own training.

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Joined
Sep 15, 2008
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As the others have posted, without EXIF data, it is hard to give good and specific suggestions. Based on my experience with my D200, here is a guess at possible issues.

1) The shots are not sharp. The 18-200VR lens can deliver very sharp images, but you have to know its strengths and weaknesses. Wide open it is usually pretty soft, especially if you go beyond 150mm. In my experience the best 18-200VR image sharpness is usually obtained at f8 with f7.1 or f9 (+/- 1/3 f-stop) being near optimal as well. Since these look like midday shots, you may have been shooting at f11 ~ f16 and that should still have given you very good sharpness, but possibly a slower shutter speed than is optimal for shooting close objects. Unless you have practice keeping the D200 steady, try to keep the shutter speed at 1/200 sec. or faster and be sure VR is ON. Note that if using a tripod, Nikon recommends turning VR OFF as it can make things less sharp on a tripod.

2) Being new to the D200, I assume that you shot in the default JPEG mode. Almost every review I read complained about soft JPGs using the defaults and my experience is the same. This is a problem with the default jpeg settings and not a flaw in the lens or camera. It is easily fixed by changing a few D200 menu settings. You want to go into the Shooting Menu and select Image Quality: FINE. Optimize Image - Custom: +2 Image Sharpening and Color Mode III. JPEG Compression: Optimal Quality

3) On my monitor the images have a color cast to them, especially the first one. Most likely due to using Auto-White Balance for the shots which have very limited and dominant color set. When shoooting in direct sunlight I suggest avoiding Auto WB and instead use Shooting Menu, select White Balance: Direct Sunlight. For pretty much everything outdoors during the day I stick with the Direct Sunlight fixed WB setting. Colors are much better and more consistent from shot to shot. In some cases I use a setting of Direct Sunlight -1. When using the flash, set the WB setting to FLASH or go back to Auto-WB. The D200 Auto-WB when using flash is pretty good.

4) To really improve the colors and image quality of your D200 shots, read the D200 Guide section for Pre-Set WB. It sounds complex at first, but it actually takes about 30 seconds or less to set a Custom Pre-set WB with the D200. No special tools required and you cannot break or damage the camera. A quality gray card is optimal, but you can "fudge" it and often do a better job than Auto-WB with a piece of clean white paper. Once you learn to do pre-set WB, (and use a gray card) you can do it anywhere for any situation and your exposure colors will improve markedly.

Best of luck with your D200.
 
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